Catching up with a trio of Marlins prospects

January 22nd, 2024

This story was excerpted from the Marlins Beat newsletter, written by Paige Leckie. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Last Thursday, the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos held their third annual Fish Fest and debuted their new alternate uniforms, which are inspired by the city of Miami.

We chatted with three players -- infielder Jordan McCants and the Marlins' Nos. 4 and 29 prospects per MLB Pipeline, third baseman Jacob Berry and right-hander Ike Buxton -- all of whom are prospects to keep an eye on.

McCants finished last season with Single-A Jupiter and is likely to reach Double-A at some point this season. In 111 games, he slashed .225/.304/.286 with 18 extra-base hits (12 doubles, four triples and two homers). As he continues to develop, it will be his versatility in the infield that garners him attention. Listed as a shortstop, McCants spent the majority of 2023 between second and third base.

Berry, like McCants, hasn’t necessarily performed as well as expected at the plate (.233 batting average across two levels in 2023), but he’s spent the offseason working to get back into his groove. He spent the fall in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .265/.329/.441 with the Peoria Javelinas en route to a second-place finish. As Jim Callis wrote, Berry showed improvement both at the plate and in the field, taking much-needed strides defensively.

“Last year was my first full year, so I’m just kind of learning from my mistakes, my progress, everything like that -- just growing as a player and a person,” Berry said. “Fall League had a lot of talented players, and I played a lot of guys who actually played in the big leagues and thought I matched up well against a lot of those players, so it’s kind of eye-opening to see where you stack up against a lot of top prospects.”

Buxton is perhaps the most tantalizing of the prospects, a 15th-round pick in the 2022 Draft out of Lipscomb who missed his first Spring Training with an injury. But he bounced back fast, ascending through the ranks from Single-A Jupiter to Double-A Pensacola in '23. Buxton made just one start with Pensacola, allowing one hit over four scoreless innings with four strikeouts, and finished the season with a combined 2.45 ERA across three levels (77 innings). 

Like Berry, Buxton spent the fall with Peoria, though he faced some road bumps (6.11 ERA over three starts and two relief appearances). He did, however, strike out 19 over 17 2/3 innings.

“Just [was] getting my feet wet with professional baseball [last year],” Buxton said. “I was fortunate enough to have a pretty decent year and had a very enjoyable time out in Arizona.

“In terms of growing as a player, and honestly as a person too, just in the consistency aspect, really honing in that routine. … I want to be able to show that I can be consistent in the zone with multiple pitches, and that’s a few things I’ve been working on to up the game.”